Massive blizzard draws attention for road safety in Granite City

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As the Minneapolis/St. Paul area got hit with a massive blizzard on Monday, St. Cloud has steered clear of the storm.

However, local officials are saying citizens should still be taking precautions.

“When snow freezes and packs down, it basically turns into a skating rink,” Public Works Asst. Street Supervisor, Frank Froelich said.

According to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol, since early Tuesday morning, there have been 184 crashes, nearly 300 spinouts, and three semi-truck jackknifes which have created a variety of unsafe driving conditions. With many citizens in the Granite City commuting to the Twin Cities daily, people need to be aware of what’s coming their way.

Lori Ellering, St. Cloud Police Department lieutenant of investigations said these types of accidents are quite common around this time of year, but luckily there’s plenty of ways to prevent them. The first one she mentions is leaving a little wiggle room between your vehicle and the others around you.

“Make sure you’re leaving enough distance between you and the car in front of you. In bad weather, ice, snow, rain double that distance, triple that distance, always be paying attention to the road.”

There’s no exact number of feet to stay away from the vehicle, but enough to where you won’t hit or be hit by another vehicle. “It’s always important to slow down,” she said.

During long commutes, sometimes the unfortunate happens, people slide off the road and get stuck in a ditch. Ellerling mentions that while driving down the freeway, there are some essential tools you should have on hand, some of these include a flair, some extra tires and a cell phone.

“If you’re traveling down Interstate 94, you’re always gonna be in an area where help isn’t far away,” she said. “Make sure you have some kind of vest on you so we can flag you down. Always have a phone and a charger for your cell phone, that’s gonna be your biggest help when you get in an incident where you can call your loved ones and tell them you’re okay and eventually call 911.”

While a lot of the advice given has to deal with what happens outside of the car, Ellering said keeping your car warm and free of obstruction is just as crucial.

“We encourage and actually require by state law that all of your vehicles are clear of debris, clear of ice, clear of snow,” she noted. “You should also clear off the top of your car if there’s a lot of heavy snow on it because it could blow off and obstruct the person driving behind you. Clear off your mirrors, your outside mirrors as well so that you can see with an unobstructed view.”

As St. Cloud avoided the blizzard mess that occurred this week, Ellering wants to remind everyone the weather is unpredictable and that a similar instance could happen to Central Minnesota sometime soon, but as of now, there are no bad weather predictions ahead.